According to results from Experian’s ProtectMyID® ‘Third Annual National Study on Medical Identity Theft’ conducted by the Ponemon Institute® and released in June 2012, medical identity theft victimizes an estimated two million Americans each year with an estimated total cost of approximately $41 billion. For more information about the study, visit: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/more-people-aware-of-medical-identity-theft-but-do-little-to-protect-themselves-from-it-160349435.html.
Of the 807 U.S. consumers who participated in the national study, 757 indicated they or their immediate family members had been victims of medial identity theft. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), “medical identity theft occurs when someone uses another person’s name or insurance information to get medical treatment, prescription drugs or surgery. It also happens when dishonest people working in a medical setting use another person’s information to submit false bills to insurance companies.”
Key findings of the study included:
- The total estimated total cost of medical identity theft – $41 billion – was a significant increase from the $30.9 billion estimated cost in 2011.
- For individuals, the cost of medical identity theft increased, rising to $22,346 from last year’s $20,663.
- Half of all survey respondents indicated they knew the person responsible for stealing their personal identification for medical identity theft.
- Almost half of the respondents – 48 percent – said they would not take any new precautions to prevent medical identity theft.
- The number of respondents who permitted family members to use their personal identification to commit medical identity theft increased by 5 percent from 2011.
- 45 percent of respondents indicated they paid the healthcare provider or insurer for services obtained by medical identity theft.
- It took respondents on average approximately one year – 12.1 months – to resolve the medical identity theft, while 25 percent of respondents said it took more than two years.
- 51 percent of respondents reported the primary nonfinancial consequence of medical identity theft was a loss of trust and confidence in their healthcare provider.
- 57 percent of respondents reported they never checked their medical records to verify accuracy while 49 percent said they did not know how to check their health information.
- 20 percent of respondents said their medical records were accessed or modified.
To prevent future incidents of medical identity theft, the study found that 35 percent of victims surveyed said they would never share medical insurance ID/credentials with anyone, 26 percent said they would monitor credit reports, and 26 percent said they would review their medical records.
For the 12th year in a row, identity theft topped the FTC’s list of consumer complaints. Of more than 1.8 million complaints filed in 2011, 279,156 – or 15 percent – were identity theft complaints, and nearly 25 percent of those identity theft complaints were related tax- or wage-related fraud. For more information about the FTC’s Top Complaint Categories for 2011, visit: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2012/02/2011complaints.shtm.
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